The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 22, 2010

Menders, Torrey and Spencer chosen for Highland Building stabilization

After four finalists for the job of overseeing the stabilization of the Highland Building were interviewed at the Highland Committee’s meeting on January 14, the committee chose the architectural and planning firm Menders, Torrey and Spencer (MTS) of Boston. The other finalists included Spencer, Inc., CSS Architects, Inc., Durland Van Voorhis Architects and McGinley Kalsow and Associates.

Finalists offered examples of their past projects, linking their presentations as far as possible to the needs of the Highland project. In particular, they described work with historic clapboard buildings and methods of stabilizing the envelope, mechanical systems and interior of those buildings. They also proposed ideas for preserving the historic elements of the interior and exterior and for making the building flexible to accommodate future uses.

Each firm presented an estimated timetable for stabilization work, and most extended this timetable into a further project of complete restoration, indicating their interest in that larger and future project. All noted that in terms of code violations, the principal concern is that the building is not handicapped- accessible and would need to be made so. Several offered ideas for the installation of stairwells and elevators both inside the building and as an addition to the building.

The ensuing discussion and question-and-answer period brought to light that although the building falls below the size to require a wet fire protection (sprinkler) system, it is not a negotiable point: Carlisle Fire Chief David Flannery and the committee have deemed a wet sprinkler system essential to the building’s stabilization and repair because of safety and location concerns.

After questions aimed at determining each firm’s expertise, understanding of Carlisle as a town and its historic buildings, which of each firm’s personnel would serve as principals on the project and how much time they would devote to it, the committee completed the interviews and deliberated to choose a finalist. At the end of the evening, the committee’s decision to enter into contract negotiations with the firm of MTS was conditional upon receipt of all relevant documentation and reference checks.

According to their web site ( MTS deals with both public and private architecture with an “emphasis on historic preservation.” One example of a building they have helped renovate is the Bedford Old Town Hall, which won the 2006 Massachusetts Historical Commission Preservation Award for Adaptive Reuse. Another example is the Old North Church in Boston. ∆

© 2010 The Carlisle Mosquito